Letter from Washington DC: Being Here

Lincoln Memorial, a favourite Washington DC location

Lincoln Memorial, a favourite Washington DC location

I’m thankful to be here and to have made it through the usual gauntlet of air travel delights – summer hordes, screaming children, lengthy security and passport lines and of course the strange and uncomfortable Dulles airport shuttle vehicles which Clive calls moon buggies, an absolutely perfect description.

As outlined in last week’s Letter from Felixstowe, critical events seem to be happening all at once. I arrived to news that the previously uncertain date for my Connecticut stepson’s nephrectomy (removal of both kidneys) had just been confirmed for next week. Across the Pond, Clive and his cousin had met with various parties and set his father’s funeral date for the day after I return to the UK.

Here in DC, my friend Laurie is out of the ICU but remains in hospital following brain surgery. I’ll won’t know until later today when will be best to see her. Talking with her partner is heartbreaking in itself as I hear the mix of love and fear and determination and soul-deep exhaustion in her voice.

My friendship with Laurie – and our mutual friend Mary, who lives with her husband in this area — extends back more than 40 years, to when we met as students at University of Michigan. For the past six years, since my son graduated from university and settled in Washington, he has developed his own friendship with Laurie (and with Mary).  It’s been a source of joy and gratitude to me that this has happened.

Being here now, able to see both Laurie and my son (and Mary, when she returns from her short holiday) grants this visit even more meaning. It feels similar to last December, when Clive and I flew to Australia to be with his mother during her final days. That visit was blessed by the ability also to see his son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren. Being able to see Laurie and my son is a mix of sad and happy, a tragic situation mixed with a wonderful one.

In reflecting about everything that’s happening in so many different places, my goal, now that I’m here, is to focus on really being here – to be present and attentive to Laurie, treasure the time with my son and try not to worry too much about all the unknowns or what’s happening with Clive’s arm (it’s still not a pretty sight, especially on Skype, but the surgeon is – finally – happy with how it’s healing) or what will happen next week with my stepson, my dear friend in Connecticut and my mother in New Jersey.

I also want my technology to work and for my U.S. internet device to stop acting up, as it did repeatedly last evening. It’s my lifeline for portable secure communications, including frequent Skypes with Clive so we can share our days until we’re together again.

AA Lincoln view 1

View from Lincoln Memorial, a lovely place for reflection & inspiration

Bless the English for their guidance to ‘keep calm and carry on’ and thank you for reading. Next week’s letter will be from Connecticut, USA.

4 Responses

  1. A particularly eventful trip for you this time, Carol. It sounds as if you need to take one day at a time so you can be at your best for the people who need you. Keep up your strength by eating and resting well: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”–Matthew 7:34

    Too much trouble typing; I’m making salsa and just slashed my finger. Rush for band-aid and neosporin. Nonetheless I’m thinking strong thoughts for you.

  2. Eleanor, thanks for your comment. Definitely a one day at a time trip.

    Now in NJ and Ho-Ho-Kus is looking good in the summer heat 🙂

  3. You know I looked for Taylor Ham in this area because I had forgotten about it until I read (the Twitter stream on) your blog. All I can find is Taylor Pork, and although it is in the familiar red and white package, I don’t think it is as good as the Taylor Ham I remember eating as a youngster.

  4. Eleanor, if it says Taylor Pork Roll it’s the same thing! You can read about it on various Internet searches. Clive delights in reminding me there apparently was a lawsuit at some point and the company is not allowed to use the word ‘ham’ because it is, in Clive’s words, ‘mystery meat’.

    True New Jerseyites still refer to it as Taylor Ham 🙂 Cheers.

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